By David R. Holland
WINDSOR, Colo. — RainDance National Golf Course — its where Farmageddon meets North America’s newly crowned longest golf course of 8,463 yards.
The July 12 Grand Opening celebrated 300 acres that are aimed to be a part of a master-planned community for Colorado families looking to live, play and work close to amenities that are second to none.
All the while RainDance National pays homage to four generations of Northern Colorado farming where developer Martin Lind’s family worked sweet corn, wheat and sugar beet fields, endured grueling Depression hard times and eventually redirected the dream to residential, commercial, industrial developments and golf.
The farm-themed golf exhibition is apparent from first sight of The Country Store Silo complex that serves as the pro shop. One passes a dust-bowl era 1932 Ford Model A pickup on the way to the first tee. A John Deere 45 combine is positioned behind the 11th green serving as an aiming point for uphill approach shots.
Rotary hoe cultivators are your tee markers and there are thousands of them incorporated into the countless welded landscape features.
Even the G.O.A.T. Ranch pitch-and-putt course and parking lot illumination comes from sculpted towers of welded parts and metal from Lind’s farm equipment scrap heap. Weathered fence posts serve as the course signage. The address is 1775 Hoedown Hill.
Sure, courses have been developed on farm land before, but never one this creative and entertaining.
The RainDance Dream
A meeting between Lind and PGA Tour player Fred Funk some 11 years ago was the beginning.
When the 2008 recession hit Lind said he was going broke fast, dimming his vision to create more communities where people could stay close to home and play and work. The financial institutions weren’t cooperating, but he discovered if he had a jet he could borrow against it.
At the same time Funk was looking to unload his jet since paydays on the Champions Tour were not as hefty as when he played on the PGA Tour.
They met, had an instant connection and talked about creating a new golf course on this dramatic land with 20- to 30-foot deep, rugged arroyos that flow down to the Cache la Poudre River some 55 miles north of Denver.
Lind did have experience after building Pelican Lakes, a 27-hole golf community in 1999. He had purchased more land over 36 years, founded The Water Valley Company, but the pesky gnat was that recession.
“I asked Fred if he had ever designed a golf course,” Lind said. “Fred said no but it is on my bucket list and he had a million ideas.”
Harrison Minchew was hired as the designer with Funk as consultant. Minchew is a 37-year member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects who spent 26 years with Arnold Palmer Design.
Design is a big Rocky Mountain adventure
“It’s an amazing setting with the river and the riparian area allowing all the wildlife to play and have safe harbor in these arroyos that have been here for thousands of years,” Lind said. “I think it is going to be a fun course for the novice, but challenging also for the studs.”
Lind also loves that at the high point you are in this very arid terrain with prickly-pear cactus, but when you get down to the bottom of the golf course (225-foot elevation change) in the river bottom you have a tee box next to the 100-year-old cottonwoods and wetlands of the Cache la Poudre River.
Back on top, the vista of the Rocky Mountains is something Lind thinks everyone will pause and take time to gaze upon.
“The land demands big,” Funk said. “There are big fairways, big greens and big bunkers, and right out of the gate we’re starting at the top of the property aiming the tee, the fairway and the green at 14,259-foot Longs Peak and that’s part of why it was just a perfect property to become one of the top locations anywhere.”
Minchew said he had never worked with arroyos like at RainDance. “When you have huge arroyos, native grasses and vegetation, those are features that give an architect an extraordinary opportunity for a great golf course,” Minchew said.
The Funkyard, The Firepit, G.O.A.T. Ranch
More farming “art” pieces can be found in The Funkyard driving range (there’s actually two plots where you pound balls) and nearby Firepit where views of holes four, seven and eight open up for fellowship and star gazing.
Lind said Minchew designed the No. 9 green into the G.O.A.T. Ranch (61,500- square feet). “That’s Colorado’s largest green right there,” Lind said. “We think it will be a fun place for the whole family to spend time and enjoy golf with friends.”
The mammoth green is shaped like a triangle and has six bunkers. One can also use the complex as a par-three hitting shots to it from the first and second tees, measuring up to 160 yards.
Then there’s Hoedown Hill, a 12-acre plot adjacent to the Silo pro shop that is the highest point in Windsor and is scheduled for bunny slope skiing and sledding, mountain biking and a proposed hotel.
The RainDance Roadhouse, the BBQ food truck, is open during your round of golf. It is situated in The Country Store Silo pro shop complex.
A clubhouse in the planning might be placed in an area above the 18th green and cabins or glamping opportunities are possible in the future.
RainDance’s place in new course history
“Just think about it,” Lind said during the grand opening ceremonies. “How many courses do you know of opening in the past 20 years? Not many.”
In Colorado, a renovated City Park Golf Course opened a couple of years ago in Denver along with TPC Colorado in 2018 in Berthoud. Flying Horse Ranch in Colorado Springs opened its North Course in 2019.
The Oakwood Land Company announced recently it has purchased Kings Point, the 907-acre property in southeast Aurora. The community will have approximately 1,700 homes as well as a PGA level golf course and country club on the site, located at E-470 and Parker Road.
So, back to that longest course in North America tagline. Longest in the world is Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club in Lijiang, China, at 8,548 yards. In Colorado, Antler Creek in Falcon (8,058 yards) and TPC Colorado are long. The Korn Ferry Tour’s TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes plays at 7,991.
Other USA qualifiers? That’s The International Golf Club’s Pines Course in Bolton, Mass. (8,325 yards), Ross Bridge in Hoover, Ala. (8,191), and the Pete Dye Course at French Link Resort in Indiana (8,102).
RainDance National Golf Course is so well done it has to be on your list of travel golf opportunities in Colorado.
“The first thing that caught my eye at RainDance National was the dramatic property. The course is big in scale, and sits on exceptional land with extraordinary natural landforms throughout,” said Allan Long, Director of Event Services at The Broadmoor World Arena. “Harrison Minchew and Fred Funk did a wonderful job incorporating the arroyos and other native features into the design to create a great variety of holes that are equal parts challenging, stunning and fun.
“At the end of the day, I found RainDance National to be a memorable golf experience, and the minute I holed out on number 18, I wanted to go back to the first tee.”
Yep, let’s play 36. RainDance National is not to be missed.